The incredible former island palace that is now the Taj Lake Palace hotel floating like a gorgeous pearl in Udaipur, India's stunning, man-made Lake Pichola.
John and I are en route to Europe tomorrow…. So let’s bang a gong, our much-needed working vacation is just about to get started.
Hurrah! Small dance. Kick up heels. Deep breath. Yippie!
London. Amsterdam. Germany. Switzerland. Finally, we zip off to Paris and then it’s back to London.
But first let’s revisit another working trip from the recent past to get us in the mood for decompression–our amazing voyage to India last year.
And, specifically, let’s set our sights upon the city of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan and the amazing, otherworldly Taj Lake Palace Hotel…
But wait, you ask, driving from the airport into Udaipur’s city limits: Where’s the charm? It’s mayhem, chaos, a cacophony of traffic and snarl with cows sitting in the middle of the road, pigs running about and packs of wild dogs and monkeys scampering everywhere. It’s zoning run amuck. But then you notice the women in mustard, sky blue and shocking pink saris, and the car pulls into the gates of the palace of the Maharana of Udaipur, and it’s hello, welcome to fantasy island. For Udaipur houses the postcard-perfect Lake Pichola, a vast man-made body of water seemingly plucked from a dreamscape, its cerulean waters anchored by the Maharana’s vast City Palace on one side and punctuated with islands, one being the former royal pleasure gardens, Jag Mandir, and the other, the incredible Taj Lake Palace Hotel.
I have been lucky enough to visit many of the world’s top hotels, and I have never experienced anything so special, so chic, so cosseting as the Taj Lake Palace. Originally built in the 18th century as the Maharana’s summer palace (the royal family’s other palaces being the City Palace and the Monsoon Palace, visible atop a mountain in the distance), the Lake Palace is a whitewashed fantasy of minarets and courtyards that’s accessible only to hotel guests via a private launch. It’s all arches, stained glass, butlers, rose petals and eye-popping views of Lake Pichola. You are quickly sucked into the world of Indian royalty in its heyday.
If you can tear yourself away from the luxe, take the launch to the City Palace and explore the endless rooms that have been decorated with mosaics and mirrors and frescoes. When you return to the Lake Palace come nightfall, dine upon the hotel’s rooftop terrace and take in the dramatically lit City Palace—it’s a fairytale come true.
Here I am aboard the private launch that carries guests of the hotel from Udaipur out into Lake Pichola and the Taj Lake Palace hotel. Only hotel guests can visit the property, so it's wonderfully private and relaxing. Please note the ever-present L.L. Bean Boat & Tote bag, here in camo.
A close-up view of the Taj Lake Palace. The exterior might be all white, but the interior rooms, courtyards, and gardens are awash in jewel tones.
A welcome arrangement of flowers at the Taj Lake Palace. I love the combination of rich pink petals paired with bright orange marigolds. Marigolds play such an important role in India as a symbol of welcome...